Summer romance is a staple of any summer, and if you are planning to visit us with someone special and you want to treat him or her right – then you have come to the right city! Brimming with so much on offer, for any price point, we have found three of our favorite date ideas to sweep your significant other of their feet.
Stardome Observatory and Planetarium
Let’s start this list off strong – Is there anything more romantic than a night under the stars? It’s a simple and peaceful idea, and luckily in Auckland, you can take your love to new heights with an evening at One Tree Hill’s Stardome Observatory and Planetarium, where you’ll be treated to drinks, canapés, and a stunning night sky show that pays tribute to the heavens’ most romantic objects. And we guarantee you’ll be feeling the love, even more, when you’re presented with a gift box containing an Adopt a Star pack and other charming goodies, also included in the ticket price. So grab your guy, or girl, and head along to see if your love is truly written in the stars!
Maybe you want to keep it simple – how about Auckland’s most creative and delicious ice cream parlor?
This inner-city outfit definitely sets the bar for originality, serving up epic creations that are known just as much for their looks as they are for their taste, perhaps the ice cream in the shape of the Sky Tower, or maybe the one that looks like a giant squid. The flavours, however, are far from secondary—largely inspired by the owners’ Italian heritage and ranging from a delicious ‘bueno’ offering made with caramel, hazelnut praline and amaretti, through to ‘Cher’s chocolate’—a decadent scoop named after the American superstar who famously visited the store in 2018.
Westhaven Promenade Loop
Wanting to try something a little more active? Want to explore the city while spending some time with your loved one? Then this leisurely walk along the harbor is just what you need.
Take a stroll in the sun along the seven-kilometre Westhaven Marina, which begins at the Harbour Bridge end of Westhaven Drive. The wooden boardwalk parallels the harbor for seaside views of the Waitemata Harbour, Herne Bay Beach, and Cox’s Bay. In summer you’ll be greeted with blossoms of red pohutakawa in trees and coating the footpath! And the harbor is littered with restaurants, cafes and sweet shops that make it worth walking along at any time of the day – a nice day out of a romantic night walk – this is the cost-effective date or you!
We are two weeks deep into December and we are close to the festive time and New Years’ goodbyes and we have rounded up some of our favorite events to help keep you busy and soaking in the sun!
Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park
Gather your family and friends and celebrate the nation’s biggest free outdoor Christmas party! If you haven’t heard of this famous annual event, Christmas in the park brings the country’s top singers, dancers, and musicians together to ignite the big stage, performing your all-time Christmas favorites and hottest hits! This year’s line up includes Ladi6, Sons of Zion, Robinson, Vince Harder and so much more! There’s also great food, stalls, and fireworks on the night.
Once again Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park is supporting Youthline. Please be generous at Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park and buy a light stick or give a gold coin donation upon entry!
Want to get the little ones more hyped for Christmas, but also have them do some learning along the way? Then head out to MOTAT this December over twelve magical evenings when it’s heritage buildings, streetscapes and trams will be beautifully lit up with Christmas lights! There will be entertainment for all ages, including an outdoor ice-skating rink, and of course the opportunity to meet Santa and his elves and share in the magic of Christmas. There’ll be lots of things to see and do with live entertainment, indoor movies, tram rides, carollers, craft activities, Santa’s grotto and more! Best of all it’s affordable as heck – Just $2 entry fee per person, and children under 5 are free!
Christmas at Silo Park
Your much loved urban playground, Silo Park, is back and they are starting the summer season with 4 days of Christmas festivities!
From 20 Dec- 23 Dec they will have DJ’s, food trucks, entertainment, and games – we’ve even got carols for a sing-along! The Silo Park bar will be serving up delicious Christmas cheer and our mate Santa will be joining us for a few hours each day. There’s also the famous open-air cinema that kicks off with a user-voted Christmas classic!
New Year’s Eve at Sweatshop
For those that are a little bit older and want to head out top the biggest New Year’s Eve party in the city, look no further than Sweat Shop’s New Year’s Eve Party. Kick off the celebrations at one of Auckland’s largest outdoor decks, a prime spot to watch the Sky Tower’s fireworks display overhead. Sip away on a fresh brew or bubbles from our bustling bar, before dabbling in a dance with Auckland’s one and only The Beat Council and DJs.
SkyCity Boxing Day Races
It’s not boxing day without soaking in the summer sun at the races! Running for over 160 years, the most colourful fashion, high-octane racing, hospitality & family entertainment combines at the annual Ellerslie racecourse Boxing Day Races!
Iconic to Auckland’s social calendar, the SkyCity Boxing Day Races offer a winning trifecta of fashion, entertainment and some of the best thoroughbred racing on offer.
The Infield Family Zone is returning in 2019 and with it, some fun, free activities for the younger family members including free pony rides, a mobile barnyard and more. The perfect spot for a family picnic, children under 15 years of age get free entry into this precinct and you can use Ellerslie’s barbeque to cook your Christmas leftovers on.
Young, fun and keen to socialise at the races? Infield party precinct, The Paddock, is making a comeback complete with a full day’s line-up of DJs headed up by Jupiter Project!
Traveling up to Auckland this New Years and looking to see how the city brings in the new year? Then look no further, we have gone out and done some research and found some great parties, places and people to help start 2020 right!
Britomart Block Party
This iconic downtown party has been running for years and become a staple for those who love the Auckland Nightlife! Spread across 3 different iconic Britomart venues: Caretaker, AV Club and 1885, it’s a great way to experience some of the best clubs in the city. Featuring sets from Sigma, P Money, Dick Johnson, Aroha and many more—there is literally something for everyone!
NYE Black & Gold Gala Dinner
Looking for something less sweaty and cramped and more glitz and glam? Then head along to Stamford Plaza’s Black and Gold Gala Dinner where you can toast to the end of the year, whilst indulging in a menu to die for and cocktails galore. Think slow-roasted lamb, a whole barbecued angus sirloin, New Zealand and French cheese selection! It’s the perfect place to see in the year with some friends or a special someone, and have one of the best last meals of 2019!
New Year’s Eve At Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen
Want to rip it up on the dance floor, but also have the opportunity to see the New-Years fireworks at the sky tower? Then roll on over to Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen who (given the title of their bar) know how to host a pumping party! But this venue also has one of Auckland’s largest outdoor decks so you can take in the killer view of the Sky Tower fireworks as the clock strikes 12. There will also be live music provided by The Beat Council, DJ Styla, Joe Turk and DJ Lucas.
Probably the most notable on this list, Northern Bass is a staple in the NYE festival scene for a reason, Hundreds of people from all over New Zealand and the world flock to Mangawhai every year to attend this 3-day festival. End your 2019 by dancing the night away to the likes of Fat Freddy’s Drop, and start 2020 as you mean to go on by listening to sick beats, moving your feet and digging into some tasty treats!
The New Year’s Eve White Party
Looking for something a little bit more ‘formal’ but still encapsulating the boogie? Then the Brazillian white party, which is taking over Princes Wharf,is the New Year’s party for you. Pop those bottles and sip on the champers to your heart’s content whilst getting your groove on to Brazilian-Latino Sertanejo, Axé, Pop, Rock and Reggaeton jams. Grab your best white outfit and go get your boogie on!
One thing we can be proud of in our city is its diverse culture – and that diversity spreads to food. Having such a big city that sprawls across so many locations you are guaranteed to find something that pleases each dietary need.
With vegetarian and vegan diets coming more and more prominent, the city has adapted and some of the best restaurants in the city are vegetarian, so if you fall into this category, or just want to explore how the other half lives, here’s a guide to what the city has to offer:
Odettes Eatery offers a menu that has it all and is enjoyed by people no matter what their dietary requirements are. Although Odettes is not a café that is targeted at the vegetarian public, they won’t let anyone miss out on a tasty experience. Cauliflower lentil and halloumi, wild mushrooms doused in whipped feta, vanilla crepes and maple granola with peanut yogurt are just a few of their many vegetarian creations. This hotspot is located in the city works depot for those looking to explore the city center.
Little Bird Unbakery
Located in both Ponsonby and Britomart, Little Bird Unbakery was one of the first in Auckland to introduce us to the raw vegan movement with their bird bowls of absolute health, superfood smoothies and of course, their raw cheesecakes and slices. Home of one of the best caramel slices in town, it’s hard to believe that these tasty treats aren’t only free of animal products but also refined sugar! The Unbakery also whip up the richest raw vegan raspberry and cacao brownie, which is so decadent and rich, you won’t believe that it’s made from only natural ingredients.
Lord of the Fries
If you’re looking for a burger but avoid both meat and dairy, look no further than Lord of the Fries. This 100% pure vegan fast food joint doesn’t fool around with food and has created what many of us thought was impossible. Their mock meats make you forget that you’re not actually consuming any animal products—and they don’t just stop at burgers and fries. They serve uploaded up hot dogs, onion rings, nuggets and fried “chicken,” making Lord of the Fries the ultimate cheat meal eatery for the vegetarians of Auckland. With locations in queen street and k’road, this one is an easy find.
Located in Mt. Eden, this offering mixes American inspired diner food with a vegetarian twist. Ralph’s vegetarian sloppy joe with nacho cheese, jalapeños, and lime cream is one that will stay in your minds as it’s just that good. Located in Mt. Eden, Ralphs will quickly become a guilty pleasure for all those who enter.
There’s no doubt that Ponsonby is one of Auckland’s most popular suburbs to visit, for both locals and out of towners. Ponsonby is most known for its boutique fashion stores and bars, but also for being the hub for some of Auckland’s best restaurants.
The selection in Ponsonby is a diverse one filled with kiwi classics, award-winning eateries, and restaurants that evolve into night clubs as the night beacons. We have had a good look across the internet to find you some of the most popular selections for you to pamper your pallets with!
Located in Ponsonby’s crown jewel of dining, Ponsonby Central is Honeybear, which brings with it a new nuance of Southeast Asian cuisine to Auckland. Honeybear brings the fresh and fun flavours of Burma to Auckland, The Menu is bustling with all kinds of Burmese-Indian fusion dishes— including a local favorite: poutine! And if you decide that this is the beginning of a night out exploring Ponsonby, then you can’t finish the meal without diving into Honeybear’s cocktail menus which feature mixes named after Maharajas.
Little Bird Unbakery
I already know what you are thinking, what is an unbakery? Well, as it turns out it is a heaven for health-food lovers – All food is raw, organic and free from gluten, dairy, soy and cane sugar. But don’t start thinking that this is at all a roadblock for deliciousness, because that’s not the case at all, the food here is creative and most importantly delicious. Highlights include kimchi pancake, chia bircher and spiced chestnut waffles, and pizza – which they run specials for daily. The drinks range is also equally diverse and healthy, featuring favourites such as a large range of smoothie offerings, chocolate drinks, matcha-based drinks, cold-pressed juice, kombucha and more.
Food Truck Garage
Not only is this food truck renowned in Ponsonby, but it has also made a name for itself across the city for one popular reason: healthy fast food. Yes, you read that right, this food truck mixes the divine mouth-watering taste of fast-food and removes the guilt that comes with consuming it – it’s a win-win situation. Ask anyone and they’d tell you that the food truck is most famous for its beetroot burger, and for good reason too, filled with juicy goodness, you’ll instantly be under its spell. The menu also features new burgers; chicken crunch and epic veggie, as well as burger bowls packed between salad-stuffed lettuce cups, and hassleback fires.
This newly opened bar and restaurant has quickly become a Ponsonby favourite, giving its fellow Ponsonby eateries a run for their money. You’ll see why as soon as you open the menu which focuses on rustic pizzas, cocktails, and an approachable atmosphere—on the sunny side of Ponsonby Road. All the furniture is handcrafted in Raglan and the lovely, passionate staff will offer an experience so great that you’ll probably find yourself there until late at night as the nightlife takes over.
In past blogs, we have given you guides to some of the most common places to visit in Auckland for first-time visitors, taken you to some of the best restaurants and walks outside of the city, and found the best way to save money on your visit. Our next guide to exploring the city will take you to some of the best-kept secrets in the inner city.
If you want to treat yourself and your partner to a romantic night out that wraps up with a movie – but want to avoid the usual chain theatres, then look no further than Academy Cinemas. Located under ground beneath the Central City Library, this boutique cinema has only two screens, one classic full-sized one and a smaller sixteen seat theatre.
Academy chooses to skip the typical Hollywood blockbusters and instead showcases a diverse selection of indie films from both domestic and local distributors, and if you time your visit right, you might even be able to catch one of their famous and much-loved movie marathons. Hot tip – visit on a Wednesday for a five-dollar film.
Truly an iconic Auckland favourite and a must visit for all bookworms is the legendary hard-to-find bookshop. Located off the main streets in a renovated old Victorian brick home, this bookstore takes a bit of adventuring to find, but once found, you’ll be glad you went. This book shop is not only called hard-to-find because of its location, but also for the collection it contains over one hundred and twenty thousand books, some of which are extremely rare – and you guessed it – hard to find. Well worth sacrificing a couple of hours to explore and for the friendly and well educated service, its well worth a visit to this Auckland institution.
Located in a historic building that was once a butchery for over one hundred years Frida Margolis is now transformed into a secret little wine bar located in the heart of Grey Lynn. You’ll fall in love with this the exposed brick walls, wooden European-esque seats and quirky paintings adorning the bar. Drinks include boutique wines, craft beers and mulled wine in the winter.
The Kimchi Project
How does the sound of delouse Asian-fusion eats in a spacious, covered courtyard tucked away in the heart of the CBD? Well we have the place for you – The Kimchi project offers everything from kimchi dumplings and pulled pork waffles to soft-shell bao and beef bulogogi stew. Worth a visits as it is located in high street, the small one way street located just off Queen street that hides a series of off-shoots and paths containing some well-renowned boutique shops and restaurants making it one of Auckland’s most popular secrets.
Being so close to ferry terminals makes it easy for you to explore what Auckland has on offer, including some of its most iconic and beautiful little villages, and in just ten minutes you’ll find yourself in one of Auckland’s cutest little villages: Devonport. This quaint little seaside town is postcard pretty, but it’s not all looks, this village has a lot to offer with its epic bars, cafes and restaurants – and we have made just a small selection of things for you to explore to get you excited about exploring:
North Head Tunnels
Feel like getting some exercise in while having a little history lesson? Devonport is home to Head to North Head and explore the dark tunnels that are placed on a long extinct volcano. The tunnels were created as early as the 1800s and soon developed across many different world wars as a way to be one of the country’s first defenses against coastal invasion. As a result, some cannons and shooting sights and prisoner barracks remain prime for exploration.
This seaside theatre sells itself as one of oldest theatre in the Southern hemisphere, this theatre has been around for a long time and has managed to maintain its heritage by sticking to its vintage look, which in turn makes for quite a unique and romantic date night. Don’t worry, despite the vintage look, the theatre still features all the modern furnishings: Big screens, comfortable seats and choc-top ice creams!
Calling all chocolate lovers! We have the one and only reason you’ll want to visit Devonport: boutique quality handmade chocolates and truffles that both look amazing and taste just as good! This store has everything to make your inner child spring outside from crazy flavors to chocolate figurines, these chocolates are the perfect reward after a day’s exploring, or to just full that empty space in your heart!
Devon on the Warf
Speaking of food, ask any local and they’ll send you to this Turkish-inspired restaurant that is located right by the water with stunning views of the Auckland Harbour and beyond. You can either start or end your day here (or both if you love it as much as we do!). The décor mixes homely wooden tables and chairs with a geometric-tiled floor and bright light and greenery. The bar features a selection of beers, wines and cocktails as well breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that are equally creative as they are delicious.
Shopping In Devonport
Devonport is a heaven for those loving a good vintage find and book Cosi Fan Tutte is where you can find vintage pieces that are completely unique, and both Bookmark Secondhand books and Paradox books feature such a wide selection of reads, you’ll accidentally be in there for hours!
Karanagahape Road, or K road as it is more commonly known as is a famous strip of road in Auckland for many reasons, it has had a mixed history both good and bad but it is mostly remembered and celebrated for its diverse culture and offerings. Located at the top of Queen street, we’re going to take you on a small journey down a stretch of road that has defined Auckland’s Diversity for years.
One of K Road’s crowning glories is its divine selection of chic vintage boutique stores. For all you vintage and second-hand clothing fanatics out there, you’ll want to make sure this stretch of wonder is on your to-do list as it collects some of the most sought-after second-hand stores in Auckland, including Paper Bag Princess, American vintage, Metro Retro, and Thriftway just to name a few.
K Road also features some of Auckland most diverse and famous restaurants and cafes that can appeal to all pallets, including middle eastern, vegetarian, European and more. Some of our favourites include famed local vegetarian outlet Lord of The Fries, a burger joint for vegetarians that is to die for, Carmen Jones is a staple of the strip that offers a large selection of local flavours and is frequented by many local celebrities.
A visit to K Road isn’t the same without a stop at St. Kevin’s Arcade, which features local small business, cafes, Auckland’s famous dive bars, and local art galleries as well. Lets start with the dive bars – if you are looking for an iconic night out in Auckland’s underground, Whammy Bar and The Wine Cellar are to local stalwarts that need to be seen to be believed, you can visit these bars most nights and catch a local musical act tearing up the stage and enjoy a bevy of beers on tap. As for the shopping you can choose between vintage American clothing stores, second-hand bookstores or support a selection of local small businesses offering haircuts, flowers, food, or massages!
K Road is most infamous for its nightlife, and you can choose from a classic location, or some newly opened venues, there is plenty to choose from! These can be the aforementioned whammy and wine cellar dive bars for local live music, Neck of the Woods for some quirky but modern happenings, the thirsty dog offers your classic New Zealand Pub offers and the famous Family Bar is also not to be missed!
So if you have a day to kill in the city and want to get the most local and diverse offering in Auckland, you can’t go any further than K Road.
For more information on This famous stretch of road, visit the Website.
When you are on holiday in scenic New Zealand, there is so much on offer: water sports, breathtaking beaches, scenic and historic walks, but sometimes being spoilt and relaxing and getting a little tipsy is what the doctor ordered, and boy do we have just the experience for you: The NZ WinePro Tours.
Winning numerous awards in tourism this company offers the gold standard of day trips, curated by Tour Director John McFarlane who created the company in 2002, McFarlane has developed the company into one of Auckland prestigious experiences, and working with the department of conservation, has gained access to some of the city’s most beautiful and protected areas. WinePro offers four tours to choose from, each exploring a different part of Auckland.
Vineyards Honey and Black Sand Beaches
This tour is a six-hour journey around the rugged West Coast including the Muriwai black sand beach, but don’t fret, there is also a selection of historic and award-winning wineries to explore as well! First stop is Kumeu River Wines, Pioneers in New Zealand winemaking since 1944, sourcing wine from grapes grown on their own ten Kumeu and Huapai Vineyards. Following that, it’s Soljans Estate which also features special honey made from the native NZ Tea Tree, and after lunch an afternoon visit to West Brook Wines or the Hunting Lodge Winery for a lavish selection of wines in the cellar door shop.
Matakana Coastal Getaway Wine Tour
Heading North West on this tour, you will experience a tour through the coastal seaside resort towns of Orewa and Waiwera Mineral Springs. The wineries on this tour include Hunting Lodge Winery, lunch at Plume Vineyard Restaurant and an afternoon tasting at either Omaha Bay wines or Ascension Wines. Along the way, you will also get to stop in at the Puhoi Cheese Factory to taste some delicious cheeses, see a rare 850-year-old Kauri tree, and sample some native flora honey at the New Zealand Honey Centre.
Piha Karekare Rain Forest Wine Adventure
Head out west to the Piha region where you will Head up into the stunning Waitakere Ranges, Piha, and he beautiful Karekare waterfalls. During your journey you will get to taste of varietals and blends at Soljans Winery, Hunting Lodge Winery and West Brook Wines, Situated in the picturesque Waimauku Valley.
Muriwai Scenic Morning Or Afternoon Wine Tour
The smallest and most affordable tour available takes you out to the market garden and lifestyle areas of Kumeu, Huapai, Waimauku and the black sand beaches of Muriwai. In terms of tasting wine, you’ll be taken to West Brook Wines for a cellar door tasting and The Hunting Lodge Winery a modern winery to finish it off.
So if you are up for a day of exploring what the outer reaches of Auckland and this country has to offer, while experiencing some of our best wineries, this award-winning tour is one that is not to be missed.
Enjoying a drink or a bite to eat by the water is something everyone can agree is a prime experience, and with Aarangi Motel being central to both Mission Bay and Kohimarama, you have the selection of two great social hubs by the water to choose from.
Mission bay houses a wide variety of restaurants with different themes and flavors to choose from. Dos Amigos is an authentic Mexican restaurant located directly across the waterfront and offers dishes made from traditional recipes and the restaurant itself is also authentic in style, with a Latin American theme, including decorations down to sombrero-wearing pet lizards?! Dos Amigos is a famous location with authentic flavor and has everything you need to feed the family or just enjoy some good food and one or more cocktails by the water! Speaking of beverages, we can’t discuss wining and dining in mission Bay without mentioning De Fontein Belgian Beer Café. De Fontein features both an upstairs restaurant with a large balcony with views across the water to Rangitoto and a downstairs bar and pavement seating, ideal enjoying a delicious pint of craft beer.
Kohimarama also offers a selection of international flavors by the waterfront as well, Der Metz offers traditional German food across their menu (Including a variety of schnitzel), as well as a selection of German beer in large, German pints! The décor is also undeniably German, with flags and beer cozies littering the walls in German pride. If you are looking for something to enjoy during a day trip to Kohi Beach, Kohi Corner is a perfect drop-in point for premium café food, or to enjoy a selection of craft beers, extensive wine sections, and cocktails. This casual cafe has been the local favourite and is located right on the waterfront, it’s the perfect place to cool off and re-energize during a productive day at the beach! For a standout experience in wining and dining, an evening at The Attic is one you won’t forget anytime soon, their website makes a clear point of standing out from the other restaurants in the area by being a Gastro Pub. The menu is packed with a high-end Kiwi dining experience that includes grilled foods, burgers, seafood salads and more – something to please everyone who enters. The Attics selection of tap beers, wine and cocktails are perfect to enjoy in the buildings fantastic layout that includes an outside deck for summer and a cozy lounge with a fireplace for winter nights.
So no matter what you feel like eating or drinking, and no matter the size of your group, with such a vast selection of restaurants all located by the water, you are guaranteed a fantastic night out!